I get asked this a lot so I thought I would let everybody know.
I’ll start with recovering from being sick early in 2020. I lost about 10 pounds from not eating and being dehydrated. I viewed that as a head start to what I had known for a long time I needed to do.
I knew nothing about nutrition. All I knew was that I ate too much and ate the wrong things. Initially my goal was to just eat less and eat better. I’ve quit a lot of difficult things in my life. I used to smoke and drink when I was much younger. I quit both. The main difference from quitting those and losing weight is that you still need to eat. I think that is what makes it hard for most people. If you quit smoking, you never smoke again. If you want to quit overeating, you are still eating only you’re trying to eat less. I quit eating junk food and avoided sugar as much as I could. When I ate a meal, I just tried to eat less than I would have in the past. It was working.
I had no idea how many calories I was consuming in things like bread or flour tortillas. I used to have like 5-6 flour tortillas when we would have tacos because I don’t like overstuffed tacos. I would rather eat more with less in them than have fewer that are hard to hold. Those extra tortillas or bread were really adding up and I had no idea.
I also tried to avoid drinking calories. I used to drink a lot of sweet tea and Ale-8s. I limited myself to one Ale-8 a day, even though each one was 60% of the daily amount of sugar you need. Now I might have one a week and it actually is better. It feels like more of an occasion to have one. It is funny that when you do have something less often, it just seems more special.
As I just slowly kept reducing what I ate, two things started to change. One was I was learning that a human body doesn’t need as much food as I thought it did. I had never really been hungry in my whole life. I was confusing being hungry with the energy crashes from eating sugar and junk food. I would eat the wrong stuff, get some energy, crash, then do it all over again. Day in, day out. Once I quit doing that, I could go longer between meals without snacking. The other thing I realized was that counting calories was a lot like math and managing money, both of which I like.
It sort of became fun to count calories. I viewed each day like I had a budget of calories to spend and my goal was to spend them wisely. Since I had gone into “Fat Debt” by eating way too many calories in the past, I had to payoff that debt by having a calorie deficit.
Once I stated losing some weight, probably when I was about 230 pounds or so, I started thinking I should try to get in better shape. I had an old 50 pound barbell that I don’t even know where it came from. I started lifting it 10 times any time I walked by it. The first several times really hurt. I had done some damage to my shoulders while working at UPS when I was much younger. I always had a hard time any time I needed to keep my arms over my shoulders. I pushed through. Now I have built enough muscle that it doesn’t hurt at all now. I realized this the last time I trimmed bushes at my old house. That used to really hurt and be a miserable experience.
I also started doing push ups. Those really hurt, especially since I was doing them wrong at first. It used to be hard to even do a few of them. That was okay. I knew if I just stuck to it, it would become easier and I would be able to do more. I try to do about 50 a day now.
So I’m continuing to eat less and exercise a little more. All is well.
I sort of like having a routine and sticking to it. I hit a point where I was having no energy and it was hard to get through the afternoon. I started eating more calories earlier in the day and that helped. What I learned here is that things can change. I just thought I would keep up the original plan for the rest of my life.
Then I got into jogging, which I haven’t done in a long time. It was sort of a novelty. I had not run since I was a little kid. It was sort of fun to be able to do it. I mostly walk now. 10k steps a day minimum. Walking really helped me go from 185 down to about 169 quicker than you would think….or at least quicker than I thought. If you don’t do any other exercise, try walking. An hour a day can change your life. Just turn off the TV and do it because no show is more important than your health. You don’t have to go fast or far at first. It is just a really easy way to get into better shape. It takes no equipment or skill. It is something all of us have successfully been doing since we were toddlers.
Speaking of the rest of my life, I viewed this change in behavior and mindset to be something that wouldn’t end. I had seen several friends lose a lot of weight and then gain it back. I did not want to do that. To me, it always seemed like dieting was forcing yourself to do something you didn’t want to do for as long as it took to reach a target weight. Once that goal is achieved, it seemed to me to be the worst thing that could happen. Most people seem to quit their good behavior once they hit their target and then go right back to overeating. For that reason, I had no specific weight goal. I wanted to get as thin as I could. I figured my body would one day just find it’s ideal weight. There were milestones of course……hitting 250, then 225, then 200, then I got into things ending with 9 such as 199, 189, 179, 169. Still though there is no magic number for me where this ends. Also, my goal was to make this mindset a permanent change. I don’t want to ever view my journey as being over, just at some point switching from weight loss to maintaining my health.
Here I am over 18 months into this. I want you to know I haven’t starved myself. I haven’t done some fad dieting. I just did what we all know we should do which is use self discipline and common sense. There is no magic way to lose weight and keep it off. You just eat better and you eat less. It isn’t hard and it didn’t hurt. I never once felt like I was suffering. I ate pizza, I ate a few donuts, I ate way too much pasta. I just didn’t go crazy with those things and I would just eat a little less the next day or the day before. Remember, it is like budgeting. If your car needs new tires one month, you spend a little less on other things that month.
I sure hope this helps somebody with their journey. I cannot emphasize enough how past due this was. All that had stopped me from doing this sooner was myself. I was in denial. I was lazy. I was afraid of failing. I tell people the hardest thing was the decision to give 100%. After that it was easy. If you need to lose weight, just commit to the change. You don’t have to know everything to make the first step. You will learn along the way. Don’t view it as you are giving up anything, view it as you are gaining quality of life and a longer life. Don’t be afraid. You will have setbacks. You can’t beat yourself up. Just keep moving forward. How fast you go doesn’t matter, the direction is what matters.